I met R at his office in Robinson Road for lunch last week. “What shall we have?” I asked, referring to food, of course.
“Let’s have a quickie,” replied R.
“What?!” Hmm. My heart pounded fast.
“A quick lunch, I mean. I’ve got a lot of work to be done today. What were you thinking of?” winked R.
What an anti-climax.
Lunch was a 2-minute walk down to Old Chang Kee at The Ogilvy Centre. Most of us know Old Chang Kee as the homegrown franchise famous for fried curry puffs and other artery-clogging but irresistible deep-fried snacks. They are the local takeaway version of McDonald’s. Ubiquitous and unhealthy.
At a few selected outlets, they have now started to sell hot meals too. At the Ogilvy Centre branch, we were lucky to get a table despite the very limited seating. Surprisingly, demand for the meals was quite brisk.
Out of the five hot meals, R recommended the curry chicken and beef stew. Forget the mee siam, he said. An absolute horror. The nasi lemak and curry noodles were forgettable too. For a moment, I thought I was sitting next to Simon Cowell.
Given a choice between rice and a bread bowl, I chose the latter. This is localized Chinese curry chicken, which Singaporeans like to eat with French loaf, dipping the bread into the curry. Seems like the dudes at Old Chang Kee were inspired by the classic soup in bread bowl, and hit upon the idea of localizing the concept.
It was actually pretty decent. The interior was modified to suit the local preference for soft and fluffy breads, but the exterior crust was nicely toasted till warm and lightly crisp.
Another plus: The curry is made without coconut milk, making this a healthier version. Indeed, I did feel that it was less oily than the usual coconut milk version. The gravy was still rich, though, and the spices packed quite a punch. The chicken leg pieces were meaty and tender.
I barely tasted R’s beef stew because my tastebuds were quite numb from the spices, but I tried a beef cube and it was very tender.
It’s interesting to see Old Chang Kee expanding their repertoire to include more items. I just hope that in the process, they will maintain the quality of their food. I still love their curry puff. All too often, over-zealous expansion results in a dip in standards. Anyone been to Delifrance lately?
One tip: Skip the lime juice, unless you don’t mind paying for water, sugar, and food dye. One grouse: Can’t they include some salads or greens on the menu to balance out all that meat and fried food? Still, if it’s curry chicken with bread I want, I wouldn’t mind having Old Chang Kee’s again.
Old Chang Kee (Ogilvy Centre outlet)
35 Robinson Road
The Ogilvy Centre